JOBSON, Walter (by 1519-1605), of London and Kingston-upon-Hull, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Family and Education

b. by 1519. m. 29 Aug. 1540, Elizabeth, wid. of William Page of London, at least 1s.2

Offices Held

Warden, Clothworkers’ Co. by 1544-59 or later; sheriff, Hull 1545-6, mayor 1549-50, 1556-7, alderman by 1557; commr. subsidy 1549, 1559, goods of churches and fraternities 1553.3

Biography

Walter Jobson doubtless came of a Yorkshire family, for the name is found only in that county until Sir Francis Jobson’s grandfather established himself in Essex. Jobson probably came as a boy to London, where he was apprenticed to a cloth-worker and became a member of that Company, afterwards returning to Hull. In May 1540 a fellowclothworker William Page was buried in St. Mary le Bow church and three months later his widow Elizabeth, the mother of three infant sons, took Jobson as her second husband: that the bridegroom was the man who later sat for Hull is shown by the grant of administration made to his own son and namesake in 1564 of the estate of the three sons of William Page, the grantee being their uterine brother. Although a friend of Page’s, perhaps even his ex-apprentice, Jobson is not mentioned in his will.4

Jobson lived chiefly at Hull from at least 1542 and three years later he was made sheriff there. In October 1544 Jobson, described both as a citizen and clothworker of London and as a merchant of Hull, fought and won a case in the court of Exchequer which must have had an important bearing on his later career. Summoned to answer for three tuns of prise wines demanded of him in Hull, he replied that it was a privilege of London’s citizens not to give prisage, a duty of unspecified percentage payable in kind; he was discharged after the mayor of London had certified him to be a citizen and warden of the Clothworkers’ Company. He seems to have treated this as a test case and, having won it, he specialized in the wine trade. His name first appears in the Hull customs book in December 1544, his only import being 51 tuns of unsweetened wine, for which he paid £7 13s. tunnage, one of the largest amounts recorded there that year. Nearly every other recorded shipment by Jobson to or from Hull included wine, though only once was it an entire cargo.5

As a Member of Parliament Jobson probably added to his care for the interests of Hull an interest in the voluminous legislation on the cloth trade. His qualifications are likely to have made him one of the ‘discreet and sage knights and burgesses’ in the Parliament of 1547 who conducted a long and (as appears from the preamble) highly technical inquiry into abuses in clothmaking which an Act passed in the fourth session (5 and 6 Edw. VI, c.6) was designed to remedy. In his own commercial dealings, however, cloth seems to have been a small item: apart from wine, the most important were lead, alum and grain, but he also dealt in most foodstuffs as well as hardware and haberdashery.6

Like many other rich merchants of the time Jobson was also a dealer in ex-monastic land. His largest single purchase was that of Mowthorpe Grange, Yorkshire, in February 1555 from Sir Francis Jobson for £1,900; Sir Francis had acquired this property in the previous reign from his wife’s half-brother the Duke of Northumberland, and from his berth in the court of augmentations he doubtless promoted Jobson’s applications. His degree of kinship with Sir Francis Jobson has not been established, but the two were associated in many dealings, in shipping lead from Hull in 1547 and in the sale and purchase of Yorkshire land: in 1560 Jobson solicited Sir Francis’s aid at court for an acquaintance. The fact that Sir Francis lived in Colchester and Walter in Hull favoured their cooperation in trade, for much of the coasting trade of Hull was carried in Colchester vessels: in 1557 Walter Jobson loaded the Magdalen of Colchester in London with goods (including eight butts of malmsey wine) for Hull, and in 1563 Sir Francis the Michael of Colchester at Hull with 20 quarters of grain for carriage to Colchester, though it is not known whether he was a regular shipper, for the Colchester customs books for this period have not survived.7

In 1546 Walter Jobson was assessed at 100 marks in goods for the subsidy, in 1549-50 at £80 and in 1559 at £50, but it is hard to believe that there had been any such decline in his possessions: in the last two of these assessments he was rated the wealthiest man in Hull, the next largest figure in 1559 being £20. In 1549 he was fined for not keeping up the style, in apparel and entertainment, which the town’s regulations enjoined upon sheriffs, but the fact that two other former sheriffs were fined at the same time makes the offence appear venial. His shrievalty also gave rise to an action in 1547 in the court of requests, when a Dutchman alleged that he had allowed a Scots pirate to escape from the town gaol. Although the decree has not survived there is little doubt of the result for all the witnesses swore there had been an agreement that custody should be at the Dutchman’s risk, not Jobson’s.8

Jobson sued out a pardon on Mary’s accession and again on Elizabeth’s. The earlier one may not have been unconnected with his nearness to Sir Francis, who took part in the attempt to secure Lady Jane Grey the crown. Although Jobson himself is not known to have been involved in the succession crisis, he was to be numbered among those who showed their dislike of the Marian regime by their actions in the Commons. In the first of the Queen’s Parliaments to which he was returned, that of November 1554, Jobson was listed among those who absented themselves without leave before the dissolution, but as he was not prosecuted for this offence he may have been able to give a satisfactory explanation. In the next Parliament, however, his action was unequivocal: he was the ‘Mr. Jobson of Hayle’, the latter name being probably a mistranscription of ‘Hull’, who voted against at least one of the government’s measures. He was to sit again in 1558 but nothing is known of the part he played in that Parliament. His summons, with other aldermen of Hull, before the Privy Council in the previous November was probably occasioned by some dereliction in the setting forth of privateers against the French, for which he and others had been commissioned in June. The numerous other legal actions in which Jobson was involved during this and Elizabeth’s reign cast light on his activities as a merchant and landowner but none on his character.9

Jobson had severed his practical connexion with London by 1556, when he was summoned before the City’s court to justify his retention of the freedom of the City, though ‘neither inhab